Handwriting: The power of the pen


graphic by Maddie Sievers

On Feb. 17, Alex Rodriguez released a handwritten apology note to the fans of the New York Yankees for his violation of Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy, which led to his suspension from playing during the 2014 season. This decision to release a handwritten note was an unusual one and prompted analysis of Rodriguez’s personality from handwriting experts.

The study of handwriting is called graphology. While it is largely considered pseudoscience, it is still used for some psychoanalysis along with other personality assessment tools. It has also been used in employment to weed out potential candidates according to what their handwriting might reveal about their personality. To profile a person, analysts look at the way they space their words and letters, the neatness of their letters and how these things reveal their state of mind and even their upbringing.

What place does graphology hold in our society today, however, when most pieces of writing are typed up on a computer? While many of us can remember spending a great deal of time during our formative years learning how to write in print and cursive, children in elementary school today are not obligated to do the same.

“I think it [handwriting] is important to keep in our curriculum,” English teacher Ann Partlow said. “It offers a sense of history when you look at someone’s handwriting from the past.”

Despite the fact that handwriting and graphology are being squeezed out of the mainstream, there is plenty of new technology on the market that utilizes stylus pens and even smart pens, which sync what one writes on paper to a computer, phone or tablet. So while there is no way that typed writing will lose its place in society, there still is hope for writing traditionalists who still believe strongly in the power of the pen.

“It offers discipline which can be applied to a variety of aspects of life,” Partlow said. “Why wouldn’t we want to celebrate something that shows personality?”